Katherine Hayton | BLOG

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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When I woke up this morning I hastily checked myself all over to see if any of my little dream companions had made the ride through to real life with me.

Those little critters get in everywhere.

Usually my dreams are either so uneventful that I forget them soon after waking up, or so full of adventures that I have to explain them to someone in case their histories are lost forever.

But there are occasions which are quite different to either of those. These are the dreams in which I thrash about and make strangled moany noises. Note: that’s according to my darling. As far as I’m concerned I’m screaming at the top of my lungs and attempting to run with legs that have been inconveniently dipped in cement.

I can’t pinpoint the exact time I first had a spider dream, but they are now my constant companions. (I can remember my first nightmare, in which I was swinging out over a graveyard and then woke up and walked into a bathroom that had creatures popping out of the wall like it was a giant advent calendar. I then really woke up and determined that I would never sleep again.)

They’re also odd in that they can be tacked into the middle of any other type of dream, and take it over completely. A dream about walking on the beach? Ruined by the spiders. A dream about getting something from the garage? Ruined by spiders. An awesome adventure dream involving zombies? Completely enjoyable until I tried to get through the window which was festooned with spiders.

In the scale of dream horrors, these are my definite winners.

There’s some sort of sliding scale of dreams that seem to be shared widely, if not universal.

Highest up are the flying dreams. They’re the absolutely ultimate best dream ever.

Down from that are adventure dreams, which come with an entire backstory and plot.

Then are dreams that disappear as soon as you wake up.

Then are the school dreams where you’re trapped in high school on exam day forever. Clothing optional.

Down another rung is the poorly constructed elevator dream where you’re moving between floors when all the walls of the elevator drop off and the floor tilts wildly. I don’t know who constructs the bloody things, but they should find a new line of work.

Then there are the spider dreams.

There’s also a lower level of dream from there, where you have a bad dream about spiders or monsters and wake up into another dream where something even worse happens, and then when you wake up properly you’re so tired you fall straight back to sleep into either part one or part two and pick up where you left off.

And if you’re very unlucky you reach the absolute bottom of dreaming which is where you fall asleep and something awful happens and you can hear, see, and feel everything as normal but are completely unable to move. I’ve only had that happen on multiple occasions over the course of one night, but that was enough.

Apparently, this is the dream responsible for the phenomena of believing you’ve been abducted by aliens.

I just thought I’d died and nobody had bothered to tell me.

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11 Apr / Apple trees

Today I planted out my brand new apple tree. It’s a crisp little number. Bright red and sweet, but also hardy. Perfect for lunch boxes.

There was a bit of digging at the beginning, then the slaughter of an existing tree, then a bit of sawing, a bit more digging, a bit of the old shoveling, tamping down the soil, and water.

The hardest bit by far was the slaughter of the existing tree.

It was the first fruit tree I ever planted. I chose a dwarf cherry tree from a catalogue because it’s the finest tasting fruit in the world, and I marked out the perfect spot in the back garden. Full sun, and protection from the wind.

I planted it out, watered it up, spread in some fertiliser, then sat back and waited.

My dwarf cherry tree failed to thrive.

Thinking that it was a failure of the soil, or the type of tree was incompatible with Christchurch weather, I bought another five dwarf cherry trees and plant them around the side of the house. Where there’s clay soil, and no sun. Rather than grass surrounds, it’s moss.

Those trees thrived. To the point that I have to firmly prune them back each year in order to not have them growing through our guttering, and scraping across the spare bedroom window.

The tree out the back with its perfect positioning meanwhile? Well it half-heartedly put together a few leaves and a few blossoms each spring. By the end of summer it could usually have summoned a whole dozen leaves per branch. All three of them. And the cherries? Never had one.

So when I mentioned to my darling that what the house really needs is an apple tree and he swore I could put another fruit tree in only if I dug one out, there was never any question as to which tree would be going.

I still felt as though I was picking up the runt of the litter and drowning it in a sack as I sawed its branches off.

And then tonight on the news I see that there are sixteen hundred fruit and nut trees with their produce going begging in the red zone. If I’d held back I could’ve gone on a scavenger hunt to pick up my fresh fruit, rather than murder a living thing in my back yard.

Of course, then I’d have to leave the property, and that’s never good. So I guess I’m standing by my decision which is always a plus when it’s too late to take it back.

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09 Apr / Breaking Bad

Over the past few months my life has been undergoing a transformation. The transformation to even-less-time-than-usual to do all of the things I really should be doing.

There comes a time in every young woman’s life where she has to made a decision. And sometimes in an older woman’s life as well.

I cannot do it all. I can’t have a career, a second career, a husband, children and pets. It’s not possible.

And yes, I’m aware that I don’t have children or pets – it’s the main reason I don’t have a photo on the children and pets wall in the office – and my darling is still firmly against becoming my betrothed, but I do want to have the other things.

So I’ve decided instead of trying to do them both at the same time, I’m going to take a break from one in order to focus on the other in the hope that it then reciprocates and gives me a chance to focus back on the first.

Oh yes. I’m career breaking.

I hope it’s not bank breaking.

In order to stave off debtors I’m not taking the break until the end of August, and then only for six months.

And until then I have put my credit card away in the hope that this will alleviate some of the financial stresses of not receiving a pay cheque.

The stresses of not being able to buy things in the meantime, and the toll that will take, remains to be seen.

Not to mention the stress of trying to remember that I’m taking a break not to take a holiday, but to give myself an opportunity to explore more fully the question of tangibly building a retirement career out of putting words down on paper.

Although, I guess if I get to the end of it and I still haven’t written anything more down I will have answered that.

And as one of my work colleagues gleefully pointed out, either way it’ll all be over this time next year.

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08 Apr / Old timey books

When I heard that Harper Lee was going to release another novel I – like a goodly portion of the rest of the world – immediately booted up my Kindle and pre-ordered.

Fantastic fiction, elder-abuse or an amazing discovery, I didn’t care. I just wanted to get hold of it. How could I resist? I’d loved To Kill a Mockingbird.

Yup. The rabid dog. The mysterious neighbour. Gregory Peck.

Wait a minute.

I eventually concluded after scouring my library and my memory (I trust the first more than the last) that I hadn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird, I’d merely enjoyed the fine movie adaptation.

As a long believer in the fine tradition of ridiculing movie or television adaptations as inferior to the real thing I immediately bought the kindle version and set to work.

I don’t remember the old-lady heroin addict appearing in the movie (although it has been a while so feel free to correct me) and there was a lot of use of certain words that I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to type into a blog on the internet for fear of forever making it onto some sort of list that Edward Snowden has long warned us all about, but that was a fine book.

A damned fine book (if you don’t mind me cussing).

I really must pick up some more books by that author to see if her talent expanded throughout her career.

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Tonight is the last night of my Easter holidays. And once again I must ask that most philosophical of questions – Why do Holidays End?

No, I’m not really sure why it’s a philosophical question either, just it sounded better than my usual whining.

Given the time I spend looking forward to holidays, they really should last longer just to recompense me for the thoughts given. If they were longer I bet I’d spend less time thinking about them as well, which would work out better for those people who don’t realise that they’re paying me to think about my next holiday.

I’ve also discovered that because I leave work extremely early, due to starting extremely early, it means my holiday ends earlier than your standard holiday-ending victim. Three-thirty is my cut off time, while there are other people I know who can sail on all the way to five before they officially count themselves back at work.

Oh, I thought that was how everyone counted the end of their holiday. Is it not? I think it should be. If the world was run by accountants, and lets be serious for a moment now because it’d be much better if it were, that is definitely how you would keep track of your holidays.

But none of that matters at the moment, because whatever may or may not happen to the length of my holidays in the future, the one I’m currently having is over.

And tomorrow may be Tuesday, but it’s definitely got some Monday-like qualities going on.

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