Katherine Hayton | BLOG
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I’ve knocked back a few addictions in my time. Alcohol – done. Cigarettes – done. Dieting – done.

But a new addiction has crept up upon me. It’s sweet. It’s sparkling. It’s sugar-free. It’s Coke Zero.

A few years ago I thought it might help with my afternoon tendency to fall upon the sweet wagon and inhale if I had a sweet drink. Low-calorie and sugar-free of course. Otherwise it would just be replacing one bad habit with another.

I tried lemonade. I tried ginger ale. But I needed something stronger. Something with a little kick to it. Something with the buzz of caffeine to get me through those long afternoon hours until I could stumble through the front door fall upon the sofa kick up my feet and nosh down on some actual food.

And then our supermarket had a special on 8 cans of Coke Zero and I was sold.

Eight cans was a bit of an awkward number. I only needed one in the afternoon, and it’s only during the weekdays, so I bought two lots of eight expecting it to last for three weeks.

And it did. On the last day I couldn’t be arsed leaving one can on my desk (I like it room temperature) so I upped my intake to two. Magic.

On the following trip to the supermarket I came across the eighteen pack special. They were less than a dollar each. Bargain. That should easily last me for…

A week. That’s how long it lasted. A week. Shameful. But buzzy as well. Very, very buzzy.

I continued on in this fashion, three cans a day Monday-Tuesday, then end-of-the-week celebrations with four cans a day Wednesday- Thursday-Friday.

Then one trip to the supermarket left me perplexed as the eighteens cans were full price. Full price is quite a lot more than on special. Quite a lot more. So much that I felt guilty about paying that much money (or making my darling pay that much money) for something that was only going to last me a week.

Looking further afield I did notice that the thirty can pack was remarkably cheap though. Sorted.

My not-yet-addiction faded back to three cans a day because this made the carton last for a fortnight and I like precision. Fairly awesome.

That was two years ago. Last week I started the week off with a carton of thirty cans, and ended up going to the vending machine for the last one I needed on Friday.

Gosh.

That’s a bit out of control, isn’t it? That’s a bit in-your-face about time you got this sorted out, isn’t it? That’s a bit give up your last pleasure and surrender to the grim realities of oncoming death, isn’t it.

Yeah, well when I haven’t had my allocation of Coke Zero for the day I tend to get a bit overly dramatic!

If the years of giving things up have taught me anything, and they’d better have otherwise what was the point? they’ve taught me that when you give up you go COLD TURKEY.

None of this nonsense I’ll-just-cut-down-and-then-when-I-stop-altogether-it’ll-be-easy bollocks. If you’re gonna stop riding the needle you don’t cut it back to every once in a while, do you? No. You sign up to the methadone program and you take your three doses all at once in the morning like a grown-up.

Monday’s are a popular day for going cold turkey, but they don’t work so well when you’ve got change in your pocket and a vending machine in the cafe downstairs. Day one – failure.

But I had a secret weapon in my arsenal. Laziness. The floor below ours is being remodelled at the moment, and from today if I want access to a vending machine I have to walk across an airbridge to another building, walk downstairs, walk back across to our building through the outside courtyard and enter the cafe. Work the vending machine. Walk back to the opposite building. Walk upstairs and back across the airbridge and sit down at my desk (with cans of not at all room-temperature Coke Zero clutched in my chubby arms) and then have to take a break from work until I catch my breath.

You can see why I thought I was safe.

I caved by nine-thirty. Four cans. I even had to buy a packet of chips to break down the tenner I had on me because the Coke machine only takes coins or credit cards and I hate a row of $1.50 debits coming out of my credit card which is why I also avoid buying things in Farm Heroes.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to fool myself. I plan on taking a two-litre bottle of Sprite Zero into work and making myself drink it while appreciating the damn taste and who cares that it’s not sickly sweet? Who cares that it’s not all buzzy? Who cares that it reflects the light of my soul instead of the deep darkness of my psyche?

Coke Zero would care.

Blog tour. Get yourself some Blog tour here.

Tonight the tour is upping the ante once more to TWO stops. First port of call is Wake up your wild side. Mmmmmmm – saucy. Then we’re calling in at Room with books. Mmmmmmm – booky.

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01 Dec / Fleas

This morning I was working away, in a good mood – well, good for a Monday that is – when a fellow workmate came along to complain to our unit manager that there seemed to be fleas or ants or something infesty in the building.

She knew this because despite living with dogs she had not had any itches at home, but as soon as she arrived at work she had started to itch and to scratch and she couldn’t stop so it definitely must be an office only infestation.

There was a grunt of acknowledgement and instruction to call through to our receptionist who also doubles as an office handyman appointment arranger when our lights need replacing, our floor tiles need sticking down, and apparently when our carpets harbour real or imaginary fleas.

I know nothing more about the infestation. Nothing at all. I do know that as soon as the incident was reported I could feel at least a dozen sites on my body that required some urgent scratching. Not flea related. I knew that. In my brain. For some reason however, my brain proved reluctant to communicate this message to the rest of my body.

Especially the front of my calf where I could feel something – not a flea, no not that, but something – burrowing deep into my skin.

All of these phantom insects were not helped out at all by my skin being dry and flaky. At any given moment I have a dozen different nerves reporting a dozen different pieces of misinformation about things that my skin isn’t going through but my nerves keep insisting they is.

It lasted about half an hour all up. Then I went off and got a coffee and completely forgot the entire conversation. Along with the conversation I’d started up afterwards about scabies, mites, tics and all manner of human skin dwellers. Do not bring it upon myself.

Monday again, and you can all guess what that means…. BLOG TOUR!

Tonight the sole glory goes to Book ’em North Carolina. “Buy a Book and Stop a Crook!”

Pop on over (the posts already up) and read my biography, an excerpt, and find out all my opinions (and Lord knows I love to express an opinion) on balancing life and writing. Like a full-on serious writer chick.

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30 Nov / Statistics

As well as legally requiring you to fill out a census form every four years (when not interrupted rudely by earthquakes in Christchurch) Statistics New Zealand also embark on little side-projects such as keeping an eye on the levels of unemployment, the average salary and wages, and some other thing no doubt that I’m not familiar with but which I have to mention because my sentence structure follows the rule of three.

Last year we were picked on selected to participate in the earnings information portion, and we will have to provide answers to intrusive questionnaires about out income from all forms of employment and investment for two years – reporting quarterly. We’ve done two so far. That means we have another six to go. We’re not even close to halfway through.

The first interview was in-depth and conducted in the dubious hospitality of our dining room. Not by choice.

The second (as will be all subsequent ones) was conducted by phone. There were a lot fewer questions, and a lot less teeth-gritting. It’s still all a bit invasive. And no I don’t want to see the examples of articles based on your research, I just want to be left alone. Bah-humbug.

First one early June 2014. Second one early September 2014. The visits and phonecalls have been on the weekends so far, since we’re hard to catch hold of during the working week.

We get a lot of cold calls at our house. Lots of people asking am I Mrs so-and-so and me genuinely replying no I’m not due to the benefit of my darling and I living out of wedlock. Speaking of whom, when my darling answers the phone to a cold caller he lets them get a sentence out and then says ‘I’m not interested, thanks for calling though,’ and hangs up the phone.

The only variation to this is when he can hear the call connecting through the automated dialing machine in the call centre. The pause is usually long enough that he says ‘Hello,’ waits a moment, and then puts his finger down on the disconnect button before they even begin to speak.

So he went through the palaver of option A this afternoon, and then went back to cooking his tea. A moment later he came back out of the kitchen with a puzzled look on his face.

‘What’s the matter?’ I asked.

‘The phone-call,’ he replied. ‘The woman said she was from Statistics New Zealand.’

Neither of us has had the courage to answer the phone again. They might send up to jail.

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29 Nov / Irish Blood

No, not spilled over the driveway. I have some. In me. Still. Of course with genealogy if you go far enough back you can find relatives anywhere. Apparently my haplogroup is H3 which makes me predominantly Basque. Yip – some of those separatists running around terrorising France and Spain are my rellies.

That got off-topic quick, didn’t it?

I mention the Irish blood in me only because of my deep love for potatoes. I’ve given up on much of the gardening I took up with wholehearted enthusiasm about 6-7 years ago – most of my garden survives only because it thrives on neglect – but I still love planting out potatoes each year.

For the past three years I’ve been particularly obsessed with Pink Fir Apple potatoes. Don’t know where the Fir and the Apple came into it, but I can verify that they are definitely pink. They’re also the best waxy potato in the world IMHO. Sometimes I can even be tempted into eating them as a potato salad, and I’m a salad averse woman.

On the whole though, I tend to scrub them down, boil them up, and slather them with butter. Does adding butter to things make it a recipe? If so, I have a lot of recipes. Maybe enough to write a cookbook. Katherine’s guide to cooking with chocolate and butter. Guaranteed bestseller.

Today was my second mounding of the little darlings. One more and then I can leave them alone to flourish. Truth be told they’re not the type of potato that does flourish. Not like the urinika potatoes that I planted once six years ago and have decided they’ll live here until I die. They’ll probably live on after that, but at least I don’t have to see them.

I still love the bright purple colour of those potatoes, but my palate is never going to get down with a fluffy potato when there are waxy potatoes lying around, or being forced encouraged to grow.

And now onto the blog tour.

HA-HA. That was a trick. It’s the weekend so there ain’t one. Feel free to peruse the blog links out to the side to catch up on old stops, or see the ones I’ll be appearing in shortly.

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There are some weeks that speed by, some weeks that drag, some that pull you into a dark pit of despair. And then there was this week.

This is about work only – my home life is sweetly predictable. Apart from the wireless on my laptop suddenly deciding to disconnect itself for a couple of hours there was nothing out of character. And that was really quite well timed because I needed to swear a lot and it’s nice to have an excuse.

The only blessing out of the sorry mess is that I actually like the break of the roadshow despite all my earlier protestations. It got a little slow in places, but turned out to be quite interesting. I learned a lot about some people; the best ones were the things that I don’t think they would want me to learn.

I now feel like a bus has run me over, then picked me up, sat me at the bus-stop again, and made me wait another two hours for the next bus.

Or I think that’s how I feel. I’m not willing to try out the experiment to test it all scientific like – but if you’re game let me know how you feel after and I’ll compare it legitimately. Where legitimately means to continue to hyperbolate the hell out of it.

Well that’s my moan over. It’s now the end of the day on Friday – yes I know it’s not yet eight-thirty but some of us haven’t slept this week because our little brains have been turning little conundrums over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and hello it’s five-thirty – and I’m winding down to go to bed for a change instead of winding myself up.

Tomorrow at the supermarket I might buy a few little bits and pieces of things that I probably would live longer not eating but would live unhappier not eating and mix them up into a pre-Christmas treat. That’s the sort that you mix up at the beginning of December to test out and make sure it’ll be okay for Christmas day but then you end up testing it so many times that you get sick of it and end up bringing something else.

And what wondrous recipe am I going to whip up tomorrow? Vanilla Ice-Cream, Lemon Curd and baby Meringues. Lazy woman’s summer lemon meringue pie. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

On that note it’s time to catch up with Ye Good Olde Blog Tour.

First up we pay a visit to Nickies Views and Interviews which is ironically not doing a review or an interview, before heading onto the foreign shores of Italy with Libri Amori Miei who is.

Visit them and I’ll catch you up again in the beautiful release of the weekend. Saturday, here I come.

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27 Nov / EOM Accounts

Since starting my online business (as I refer to my book being available on Amazon) I have been keeping to a strict regimen of end of month accounting to keep track of my income losses.

It was going great guns at first – I put in a cash injection to get the whole show rolling so was immediately in profit. I just needed to sell a few copies here and there, and I could legitimately claim success. Then I decided that I wasn’t generating as many sales as I thought were warranted (damn you competitive streak!) so instead of investing in more physical stock to flog around the office, I would start to advertise.

The downfall was sudden. That s**t costs money you know. And you’d be amazed at how high a figure you have to reach before you’re due a royalty payment. And then you’d be amazed how long the retailer can hold onto a royalty payment before remembering that it belongs to you and sending it along.

It’s hard to say that you’ve earned out your investment when it’s still three months away. But when I get it…

So every month I sit down to the grim news that there is much bill and little no income. If I was running this as a legitimate business instead of a wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-I-could-make-a-success-of-this-hobby business I’d be sorely disappointed.

Luckily you expect to tip a never-ending supply of funding into your hobby because it’s what you enjoy. And on that score I’m definitely a success.

Another drawback to this soul-destroying hobby of mine is that I spend a portion of every day looking at work accounts. That means when I do accounts at home, even though theoretically it’s part of my play-time, it feels distressingly like work.

Still, when it’s your time of the month, it’s your time of the month.

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26 Nov / Roadshows

I have the pleasure of attending a roadshow tomorrow. I don’t remember getting or accepting an invitation but I’ve been told that I’m going so I’ve chosen to believe for the time being that this is true.

Looking back I’ve been counting up the hours that I’ve spent at roadshows throughout my life. Time that I’ve spent being too warm, too cold, absolutely so cold that my nipples were in danger of cutting through the front of my blouse, and hungry.

I’ve deliberately left bored off of that little list. Is this because I don’t start vapidly staring into space and pondering the mysteries of the universe after ten minutes and then trying to chew my fingernails off after twelve? No. It’s because I just anticipate that when everyone read the word Roadshow they took boredom as a given. And boy do they deliver.

Even worse than the gnawing discontent of boredom is the group activities. Someone always tells the exec that these will liven up their deadpan audience and really get them involved in the message. Someone should stop telling them that. Someone is lying, or such a bad judge of human emotion and interaction that they shouldn’t have a job. Certainly not a job where they can talk to people of influence. Not when they’re been dropped on their heads as kids.

A couple of years ago we had to get together and generate ideas for new apps. Awesome. Kids are making a fortune for the same, and we’re getting rewarded with half a club sandwich (the soggy half) and a bottle of water. I didn’t contribute a lot to that one.

Another time we had to move rice between bowls with chopsticks. That was a tad more amusing. In our team there were two pairs of chopsticks available. We handed them to the Japanese woman and the Malaysian man. People from Christchurch are so not racist.

A Long Time Ago, in a Company Far Far Away there was a man who was legend. He created a roadshow that people enjoyed so much that they willingly signed up for the roadshow the following year. Sadly, it wasn’t as good as the first. And then he was fired left the company to attend to family commitments.

Because of him there exists a little spark of hope in every employee in our company’s bosom. A little spark that tends to be extinguished halfway through the first sentence of a roadshow, but reignites the following year nonetheless. I can feel its glow sparking up now.

But onto other things you could be doing right now – after you finish reading this…

One stop shop tonight at Hope. Dreams. Life. Love… Toddle along there to get a load of my book full of hopelessness, broken dreams, the end of life, and the loss of love. A good fit, right?

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Right at the moment it’s lovely outside. It rained earlier, but then it cleared up completely and the sun came out and the air warmed up.

When we go to bed at night there’s still plenty of light outside. When we wake up in the morning it’s already light outside. If there weren’t occasions where I wake in the night to see it’s dark I’d almost believe we were living at a pole in permanent light.

On nights like this in the past, my darling and I used to sit in the dimming light and talk for hours.

We haven’t tried this in a while. Now when we go to speak we not only know what we’re each going to say but what we’re going to respond to it with and what we’re then going to say to that along with the joke that we say together which amplifies the funny.

Yeah. That stage.

It makes it easy to communicate information when you need to, but it sure makes for dull conversations.

But at least we get to read in bed longer.

It’s still a month till Summer and the solstice is far away in the future. It’s 21 degrees outside (for lovers of fahrenheit that’s warm but not hot) and the birds are singing their way to bed and the sun still has a half hour before it’s fully set.

Peace out.

Today we’re going the minimalist route with one blog tour stop. The lovely Owltastic Promotions is hosting me tonight, and it’s already up if you want to go and check it out RIGHT NOW!

Find out my favourite joke (that still makes sense when you read it rather than relying on being said aloud) and whether I am turned on by the things I write. Or really, really not because that’s inappropriate given my subject matter. Get on over there now.

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Isn’t that enough to have you running scared?

I’ve only just gotten used to writing out the year as 2013 2014, and it’s about to change. I remember when a year took years to get through. Time moved so slowly that I had to measure out my life in quarters, and halves. How old are you little girl? I’m four and three-quarter years old, ma’am.

Now I’m lucky to remember the decade, while the precise year is a pot-luck based on what feels most familiar in my mouth. Occasionally there’s a complete hiccup in my brain where my mouth tries to say twenty-eight, while my head says ‘that’s not it’ but fails to supply anything else.

Still, on the bright side at least these days I can easily afford Christmas presents, and have enough forethought to know that I need to get it organised sooner rather than later. Therefore I have done my Christmas shopping, and booked my flights and accommodation and now can sit back and watch the last weeks of the year fly by.

In other news…

Blog tour is recommencing after the weekend break with a whirlwind two stop date. First drop by Fiction Zeal and have a bit of a nose around, and then if you’re still up for more have a late night drink at Tina Donahue Presents before falling into bed completely satiated.

Yeah, that’s the stuff.

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