Monday, 16 July 2007

Travel writing

So I just had my first Travel Writing lecture for the semester. And am I excited? Well, to be honest I'm not quite sure yet. I'm not sure whether the lectures will be dull, thought-provoking, or theoretical to the point of inanity. But I am looking forward to the course content more than I was initially — the content being three more or less creative exercises, two of which are stories; and two analytical book discussions, which are dull but more or less enjoyable.

And, the danger of inanity aside, I think this paper will bring me back from the cliff of insanity which I've been hovering over for the past week or so.

Doing nothing is so dull.

So very, very, extremely boring.

I've been looking forward very much to this semester, just for the enjoyment of doing something again, and of having interaction with people other than Joy and Dan, and the occasional catch-up with Ang and Kylie. My life is so sad right now — purely because of how few people there are in it. Everyone keeps moving to Wellington, and now even Kylie and Angela are starting to consider it!

Anyhow, the disappointment of this semester is that the way my papers fall, I only have one internal paper. This means I'll need to exercise considerable self-control, which is challenging at all times — but far worse, it means I only have two days of the week where I actually have class; only four hours of seeing people outside my regular sphere.

The positive aspect is that, in these four hours, I found out today that a chick who was in one of my classes last semester, whom I got on pretty well with, is in Travel Writing as well. That's positive, at any rate; and most of the other people in the class look like cool people, whom I'd like to (hopefully) get to know a little. It seems a pretty small, informal class, so hopefully that will happen.

I was thinking unhappily about how I haven't been out of the country for eight years, and haven't done any travel at all in the last few years, apart from Dan's and my excursion round the North Island last year. Then I was thinking about going to Dunedin on Wednesday, and it occurred to me — that's technically travelling as well. Technically, I travel at least every month or so, whether it's to visit Dan's grandmother or mother and sister; or go to Wellington or the Naki, or even (as now) to Dunedin. They aren't interesting or unusual trips, but they are technically travelling.

Go me.

In fact, if you get really technical about it, I travel to Massey twice a week now, and I travel to town to go to the supermarket or to do some shopping. I even travel to see Dan.

I wonder if I could base my story around travels within town? Journey to the Supermarket — the new travel thriller by Ruth.

I wonder if I could get away with that....

#80: Red meat

Well, there's honestly not a lot to say about this one, except that I'm glad I did it, and I'm going to keep trying to have red meat every week. Over the last few weeks I've had lasagne, satay beef, ham steaks, beef stroganoff, roast lamb, beef stir-fry, spaghetti bolognese and so on. I know red meat's easy enough to cook — it's just that in a house of two women, we tend to make vegetarian or chicken meals.

But I do love eating red meat — taste so good! — and I want to either find my old recipe book or buy a new one, so I can make things like beef stroganoff from scratch, without any packet mixes. I rely far too much on packet mixes at the moment, but it's hard to change when you have no idea where your cherished recipe book is! Time to start on goal #33: Sorting out all those boxes of random junk in my room....

Monday, 9 July 2007

It's a rich man's world

I like being a student. But I'm not so keen on being poor — man, do I need a job. I've got a couple I might ring up about tomorrow, but I'm not terribly keen about either of them. Dan tells me my standards are too high, and I know it's true — I wouldn't be applying for either of these jobs if I hadn't forced my standards down somewhat. Most of the jobs out there are retail, too — and I have zero retail experience. Not an auspicious beginning.

The other problem with retail is that most jobs require you to give up your weekends, and I treasure my weekends. Apart from my temp job over summer, my last three jobs have all had me working weekends — that's four years of weekend work. Enough!

And the degradation, the humiliation. I didn't mind my brief stint at the bar — except for when I had to serve Ang's mum, or my old boss — but I don't really want any of my mates — or worse, old workmates or schoolfriends — to walk past and see me as checkout chick at K-Mart or serving burgers at McD's. I've been there, figuratively speaking, and done that. I've had four years of crappy jobs. And then, briefly, a temp job I enjoyed. It's just raised my standards unreasonably. :-(

This morning, I sorted through my bookcases, found a grand total of nine books that I was willing to sell, and listed them on TradeMe. The shame, the humiliation — reduced to selling my personal belongings (note sarcasm!). Actually, seven of the books were just double-ups of other ones I already had, and the other two were crap — one of which was Shakespeare. I refuse to have Shakespeare in my bookcase.

Yesterday I underwent a similar pain — in tidying my room last week, I cleared out two bags full of clothes I haven't worn in years and am not likely to wear again, and yesterday I dropped them off at clothing donations. It makes me really sad — a lot of it I didn't care about, like my Canteen bandanas — but there were some clothes I loved there too. My bright pink floral V-neck top, which makes me look as flat and as pale as physically possible (it brings out the red in my nose), but which is such a lovely pattern. My shiny purple trousers that zip up to my hips at the sides — trousers I haven't worn in several years and wouldn't be seen dead in these days; but I saved up for those trousers and loved them and wore them so much, years ago. All of those clothes were ones I bought years ago, but loved. Awful, but...

I loved those old clothes of mine.

Oh well. Hopefully someone else will love them now. Or possibly buy them for a fancy-dress party.

And I now have all my exam results for my three exams from this semester — an "A-" for my second-year paper and two "A"s for my first-year ones. I'm happy — and that's another task complete. But these are all the easier tasks, so far. I still have so much to do.

In other news, Dad's definitely moving to Kuwait. At the end of July, probably. The good news is that, because it's not for a few weeks, I'm flying down in a couple weeks to see the family for a few days, before Dad takes off for a year. It's just...weird. But good, in that I've more or less had time to adjust now. They're paying for all of Dad's flights; so he's arranging the local flights so that he'll get stop-overs to see Anna and me. At least, he better be. I'm trusting Mum to make him.

And I still have my "rewards" to look forward to — I pre-decided on a reward to buy myself for every "A" grade I got — so I'll soon be getting a new top and two new pairs of jeans, which is great. I haven't quite figured out how to pay for them yet, but that's all OK. Maybe tomorrow I'll wander into town with my CV instead of just hunting through the ads. Go me — lowering the standards, and hopefully finding I'll enjoy a job I wouldn't normally have gone for. Stepping outside my comfort zone! It's all good. :-)

Thursday, 5 July 2007

#23: "A" grade

I rock! I rock! I rock I rock I rock... finally, at last, на конец-то же my exam results are back! Two out of three of them, anyway... Five classic novels, my second-year paper, I got an A- for — early medieval England, the history exam I thought I screwed up, got an A!

I rock!


Man, imagine if I'd aced that history exam. I'd have got an A+.


My next goal?

#61: Scrabble

Dan and I were playing Scrabble the other night, when suddenly I saw a way of using up all of my letters... Stringer! Dan unwittingly put another word in the space I'd been going to use — but when I cried out and told him I'd been going to use that G, his next move thoughtfully made a word with another G in it. And then I saw a space which gave me slightly more points, and put down all of my letters: Strainer. I feel a bit guilty, because I wouldn't have got that without Dan — but I almost got it the first time without his help, and I didn't end up using the G he gave me, so I might have got it even without his help. So I still think it counts, and this task is complete.

But in our next game, I'll still be trying for another eight-letter word....

#97: Head unit

I am now the proud owner of a beautiful new head unit for my car.

Mum and Dad's Christmas present to me was something for my car — Mum later admitted that that was partly to encourage me to actually buy a car, since I'd been planning to for months and still hadn't decided on one. But I bought my lovely car in February, and decided to get a head unit. When my birthday rolled around in May and I still hadn't bought it, though, Mum and Dad decided their birthday present to me was a bigger budget for my head unit.

Side note on my car: I really love it. It's a big five-door family-sized car with a massive boot, and for a first car it's great. Relatively new, electric windows, already armed with an alarm, manual gearbox, a bigger engine than I'm used to, and in really good condition — although, really sadly, it's already been nicked and dinged in a couple of places by careless drivers and (in one instance) by my own careless/overtired driving. :-(

It also came with a Kenwood tape deck but, much as I like Kenwood, a tape deck is frankly useless. Dan and I went shopping for CD head units a couple weeks ago, and finally found a good branded one with more than all the specifications that I wanted, and at exactly my price range — to the dollar. Of course Dan, being Dan, said we could get it cheaper somewhere else, now that I knew what I was looking for. I sighed impatiently, but he was right — after some ferreting around on the internet (ha, ha), Dan found the next model up from the one I wanted, for $20 less. Surprisingly, it was on Ferrit — my opinion of that place is slowly rising, and my opinion of their current free delivery policy is very high indeed.

We placed the order on Saturday night. Since the payment couldn't go through till Monday at the absolute earliest, I was very impressed to receive my beautiful new head unit promptly on Tuesday morning; and Dan installed it for me last night. Ah, it's lovely. I love it so much. And it's so pretty. And it has so many functions — though at least I didn't let Dan talk me into getting the head unit with a two-inch screen to play my videos on!

So I'm very happy. And now, because my new head unit plays ATRAC and AAC tracks (neither of which I've heard of before, but apparently they're smaller and better than mp3s?), I am off to convert my mp3s to ATRAC format.

Life is good.

Monday, 2 July 2007

#9: Script Frenzy

I really hated Script Frenzy. Don't anyone, for the sake of your own health and sanity, ever attempt it.

I hadn't actually planned to do it, until I realised that none of the four NZ NaNoWriMo coordinators were stepping up either; so it was me or no one. So I did it — talked to people, wrote an article for Chaff: no response.

I hated the silent community. I hated the fact I was the only one posting most of the time, and I hate the fact that I basically just gave up on my community, because of that silence. I don't like giving up, and I hate that my community was so very unhelpful and uncommunicative.

I hate scriptwriting. Even at my lowest point of NaNoWriMo, which I've done and won four times, I've always been happy I'm doing it and enjoyed the writing. Scriptwriting, I hated from start to end, and the only reason I finished was because I'm the ML, I almost have a responsibility to finish.

I hate my shirt. I read the sizing, measured myself, ordered a medium and, I'm sorry, that's not medium. I am drowning in this shirt.

With Script Frenzy, I was so unmotivated that on the morning of June 30th I was only up to 5067 words (which I can do in a day). But:
1. I was the regional coordinator.
2. Completing Script Frenzy was a 101 goal, so if I didn't do it this year, I'd have to put myself through it again another year. It was the thought of having to do it again that drove me to write 15000 words on 30th June.

I guess I kind of did it to see if I could. And I could. I won't be doing it again. I do think novel-writing is more enjoyable — I'm a reader, and readers are more likely to be drawn to writing novels than movies or stageshows. To be fair, in 2003 I did NNWM just to see if I could do it. But, in doing it, I loved it, and actually had something not too awful to show for it. So I've done it again every year since.

I love NaNoWriMo. I may well coordinate it again this year. I've coordinated NaNoWriMo in 2005 and 2006, and enjoyed both times. The NaNoWriMo community is awesome and fun and enthusiastic and creative, and I've never had a single problem participant (knock on wood).

At least it's over. And I never have to write a script again!