Katherine Hayton | BLOG

24 Apr / Added extras

It’s become increasingly apparent to me over the last couple of weeks that something has been missing in my current work in progress.

The story is pretty much unfolding in the way I kind of thought it would. Sort of. But even though all the plot points were hitting there was something a bit… flat.

Something a bit… empty.

Too many… ellipses.

A light bulb started dinging in the back of my head as I reached the half-way point and realised that no way is there enough words in there.

Usually there’s more than enough, and I get the pleasure of knowing that soon after I’ve strained my wee heart out putting all those words on the page, I get to go through and cross at least a quarter of them out.

But if I take in the superfluous words as well, then what I have on my hands is a novella.

I don’t have anything against the form per se. “The Body” and “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” are perfect examples of the excellence this format can achieve. It’s just that I thought there was more stuff going on.

And then I worked out what had happened. I got the character A viewpoint, going on nicely. Got the character B viewpoint, acting in perfect harmony and coming in gently for a nice co-mingling of plots at just the right point. Ohhh sexy.

Now I just need to have that third eye watching out. The point of view that’s going to corroborate a whole lot of testimony right up until the point that it actually doesn’t. (Or until it does. Who can tell? You’ll need to buy the book at the ever-extending release date to find out.)

It seems like a lot of extra work to be right now, but at least when that finally occurred to me, all the other troubles I’d been having on the way through started to work themselves out.

Onward, ho. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

(Unless or until I kill her off.)

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22 Apr / Lights out

I could sense that the day was full of possibilities when I walked into the office this morning and the automatic lighting sensors didn’t instruct the lights to turn on.

The previous day we’d been warned there would be power cuts if we were lucky enough to be working at 9.30pm at night (I don’t know who these messages are directed towards, but not me obviously) but the power would only be out for 45 minutes.

There is one permanently turned-on light in our office and it was still functioning, so the power still being out was quickly overturned as a reason. Luckily this also meant the coffee machine was up and running so I had a hot chocolate and a latte while I pondered my options.

A phone call to the extension of the property manager was rerouted through to a cellphone number that I wasn’t expecting to be answered at 6.30am but was. I gave a startled message and then settled in to work in the dark.

It’s harder than it looks.

Since High School I’ve had and maintained the skill of touch typing. Little did I know that my well developed and long practised skill only worked as long as I have the ability to look at the keys from time to time. Turn the lights out and I’m reduced to the good old hunt and peck.

I’ve long been under the impression – mainly courtesy of Hollywood – that if you lose one of your senses, all of your remaining senses are heightened to compensate.

I’m not sure why, therefore, taking one sense away from me lessens all my other senses to throw the balance out even more.

Not much of a plot to build on there, I suppose.

The incredible unable-to-see-in-the-dark girl. Watch as her skills drop away one by one.

I fared better than another woman in our office who turned up early to work to find the office in total darkness, and asked her similarly affected podmate to have a nice romantic breakfast with her. Her podmate promptly phoned her husband.

I may be a useless typist in the dark, but I still know how to hit on people.

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This morning I decided that from now on I’m avoiding sugar in my diet. This shouldn’t be too much of a stretch, I used to follow a low carb high fat diet and when I got my craving on I invested into a pantry full of alternatively sweetened products.

For breakfast I had a sandwich. For morning tea I had unflavoured porridge and some sugar free chocolate to flavour it. For lunch I had MSG laden noodles and some slow-roasted pork belly. For snacks I had roasted cashew nuts.

Three hours later I forgot and ate half a chocolate bunny left over from Easter.

Given my inattention it was a perfectly acceptable mistake to make. However, given the lengthy track record it follows in the footsteps of I’ve decided that I need to come up with a new plan. Commitment in food related matters just isn’t in the cards for me.

So… I’m planning a bit of reverse psychology.

Tomorrow I plan to eat all day long. Sugar in it? Stuff it in. Saturated fat in the triple digits? Add it to the plate. Is the ingredient list a series of numbers and letters then a few words ending in -ose? I’ll have seconds please.

Fingers crossed these rules slip by the wayside as easily as any other promises.

If I don’t fall off the wagon from this one someone’ll have to clean up my corpse in a few weeks from now.

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Today I went on a hunt for a new box cutter. I thought we could get them at the supermarket, but when I searched for it on their app there was no such thing listed.

I tried under art knife in case they were being all fancy and stuff, but that didn’t locate it either.

Unwilling to risk stepping inside an actual shop and encountering an actual shop assistant in my hunt, I turned to the World Wide Web in search of my prey.

You cannot buy a box cutter in New Zealand. There is not a .co.nz .nz .kiwi or .net.nz site listed that has a box cutter in its inventory.

And yet we do have box cutters. Maybe it’s some sort of weird 9/11 thing where the box cutting industry is trying to distance themselves from terrorism (much the same way Kool Aid tries desperately to point out that it was Flavor Aid used in Jonestown people; Flavor Aid) but I finally located them under the name cutter snap blade knife.

Well that’s… descriptive.

After telling this fascinating story to my darling (oh, how the long summer evenings just fly by) he went into the spare bedroom and returned with a drawer full of old stationery. There were staples, more staples, a stapler (lucky), a hole punch, a cheap compass and an expensive compass, paper clips, and a full collection of felt tip pens that despite being at least twenty years old worked perfectly well.

I clapped my hands with excitement and ran over as he excavated these items from the general mess they’d tangled themselves into.

I don’t know what it is about stationery, but it always seems to make the world a better place. That, and a glass of Kool Aid while you’re scoring your pork belly with a cutter snap blade knife.

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18 Apr / Break-up

My darling and I broke up last night.

It came out of nowhere for me. His only explanation was that he wanted to chase ‘other women.’

I think that was more insulting than being left for another specific woman. Just being kicked out for ‘some other woman’ whoever that may or may not turn out to be.

Soon after he’d told me and I’d turned my shocked self around to go to the bedroom and pack up, I walked back through into the lounge and discovered he’d taken down all the pictures that I’d painted. He’d replaced them with cheap ugly photos. They weren’t even of planes – that I could understand – they were of landscapes. Blah.

I then had to listen to the tearful entreaties of his son from his first marriage, because my ex-darling had chosen to tell me he wanted me to leave on the alternate weekend that his son flies down from Wellington to spend with his dad.

Like I needed that on the same day I’d discovered that I was now forced to enter the crowded and expensive housing market of Christchurch. Just couldn’t be bothered to break up with me pre-earthquake. Had to make it all inconvenient.

When I walked over the road to the park after packing, I found my ex-darling rolling around on the grass with another woman and exclaiming how much he enjoys kissing. Yuck. And then he kissed the skank some more. Double yuck.

In an act of pure retribution I marched back into the house, and returned with his son in tow. I then emphasised to the boy (yet again) that it wasn’t my fault that his Dad and I were breaking up.

When I woke up I still had the bitter smile on my lips.

My darling hasn’t even bothered to apologise so far because he thinks that the excuse ‘it didn’t happen’ counts for something.

Like that’s going to make it up to his non-existent son, or dry his non-existent son’s tears.

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16 Apr / Flu jabs

In pursuit of living forever I had a flu jab today. I’d booked in a few weeks ago and filled out the compulsory form at the same time as otherwise I’d forget. I was just making the guess that if I end up using the form I’ve not come down with a fever in the last 24 hours.

The appointments this year were unusually precise. The first time I signed up for a jab in my office – far longer ago than I wish to recall – the schedule was sometime between 9.30am and 10.30am. Maybe.

This year I signed up for my injection between the minutes of 8.34am and 8.36am. I didn’t recognise the room at first because there wasn’t a line of people outside sitting and waiting. Just a row of empty chairs.

Unlike last year – when apparently even random flu injectors were trying to force me onto a diet – there were lollipops. The nurse apologised for her cold hands. Apologised.

I felt guilty when I ignored her advice to wait twenty minutes to see if the injection would kill me or not before returning to my cubicle.

I made the excuse that there were first aiders on our floor, knowing full well that if there was anything seriously wrong with me I wouldn’t be saved by a lot of hand-wringing and saying ‘I don’t know what to do.’

I survived, however.

In fact, I’d completely forgotten about the jab altogether until I lightly brushed my arm in the exact injection spot when removing my uniform this evening.

I have not forgotten since.

Still, whatever doesn’t kill you should make you immune to swine flu. This year anyhow.

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Winter is in the air, and do you know what that means? Recruitment time!

Recruitment time is strictly seasonal, in that every time the season changes we need to recruit.

There was the drought of 2014 where we over-recruited and then no one left for a year, but the usual pace of life has once again caught up with our unit and we’re back into the three month routine.

The best fun of all is working out the “challenge” to run in for the group activity.

We used to use the good old spaghetti, string, masking tape and marshmallow construction challenge. The leftovers were good, but the tables would get all sticky.

Then we progressed to the newspaper, Sellotape, and scissors, free-standing tower project. That’s a lot less sticky (even when candidates ignore the free-standing bit and start taping the whole construction to the table) but you get blackened hands from the newsprint.

Our next option was the phone call to a toy store, where the candidate is the toy store employee and they’re about to realise the toy you phoned to order is out of stock. Joyous fun ensues. But it’s labour intensive.

Personally I prefer the one where all the candidates have just crashed their plane into the side of the mountain and have to make life or death decisions on what to take with them as they attempt to find help. Anyone attempting to make a frivolous choice to lighten the mood will get an instant scowl of death from his table-mates.

Maybe this is how elections should be held. We get to see a government attempting to construct a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows, and see which side can work together the best, and which side gives up and just eats the marshmallows.

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14 Apr / Waiting rooms

Visiting my doctor is always an experience. Since the February earthquake knocked the doctors surgery down there’s been a couple of moves, so the first part of the adventure is trying to remember which road they’re now on.

Then there’s the excitement of filling out an up-to-date questionnaire, which I will’ve filled out the previous time I visited, but I’ll be asked to again because along with the building they also lost all of the patient records on file, and they’re overcompensating.

Once I’ve been formed, and seated, I then look forward to a very, very long wait because I’m pretty sure she suffers from undiagnosed chronophobia.

Luckily I come prepared. I have my phone and therefore access to hours of fun from minions and farm heroes and candy.

Today, I even planned ahead and thought I’d get a bit of blogging done while I was whiling away the hours.

And this worked a treat. Just like the last time I carried work into the waiting room because it needed to get done, my appointment was miraculously on time.

Ah doctors. Just like a good old-fashioned inconvenience store.

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13 Apr / IRD

I spent a quarter of an hour on the phone today with the Inland Revenue Service. I was failing to order a tax pack for the year ended March 2015.

Apparently although the website for the IRD has a big sign saying that tax returns must be filed by the 07 July 2015 they have another sign which they’re hiding saying you can’t file them yet.

I have to wait until mid-May before I’m lucky enough to trust my ability to add and subtract to a government department.

The phone conversation was rather interesting. The first ten minutes was spent chatting with a very friendly voice robot. He would ask me a question in a lovely inquiring way, and then wait for an answer. I would answer, and then there would be a pause for long enough for me to wonder if I’d not spoken loudly enough, then he would come back on the line and repeat what I’d said and ask if that was right.

‘I heard “blah blah blah blah” is that correct?’

Pause again, and then he would move to the next question. It was all a bit creepy.

After signing up for their voice recognition service so the next time I called them it wouldn’t take as long, I was told that there was a queue for the next human but I could hang up now and they would call me back when it was my turn. There wasn’t another option offered, so I chose that one.

The computer helpfully informed me that it would be a wait of two to five minutes before I received a call back.

The computer may be smart, but the computer be wrong.

Eight minutes passed, while I was poised to answer the phone. Eight minutes. That’s more than if you added their highest and lowest estimate together.

When I pounced on the ringing phone I was looking forward to hearing a human voice at long last. Alas, it was not to be.

First of all I had to confirm to the computer voice that I was indeed Katherine Hayton and I was indeed expecting a call back from the IRD. Then I was put through to a human. Guess what he did?

He told me that he’d be able to help me with my inquiry, but first of all I needed to pass a privacy check conducted by – you guessed it – the voice computer.

It was quite a lot of computing to obtain the answer that no one could help me with anything yet.

Still, better than the good old days when a human being would answer the phone only to tell you that there was no one available and put you on hold with muzac selected by a phone company who thought mariachi was making a comeback.

Good to know my taxes are being spent wisely.

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